Clinton Elementary is one of many picketing sites for the union and both sides of High Street were completely filled with teachers, parents, and students calling for more work to be done when it comes to a new contract.
“Fighting for a contract, Fighting for our students” was just one of the chants heard along High Street Monday morning as Columbus Education Association (CEA) members picketed on the first day of the district’s teachers’ strike.
“My daughter was in kindergarten when the pandemic started and I don’t know how we would have made it through without the teachers,” said parent Eric Schoone.
That is part of the reason he came out with his daughter to join the teachers on the picket line, saying he wants to see the board and the union back at the bargaining table.
“I hope they come back,” Schoone said. “I think we want our kid back in school, we want all the kids back in school. It’s not easy to have the children out of school and they need this.”
There have been 22 bargaining sessions between the district and the union, but no agreement. Union members voted to strike Sunday night, just hours before their then-current contract expired.
The union wants to negotiate more and address HVAC issues, while the district has put out its “best and final” offer.
Jennifer Lawson, whose two children attend Indianola Informal K-8, wants to acknowledge the sacrifices teachers are making at this time.
“It’s frightening,” she said. “It’s still a pandemic. They still, I mean, going without health insurance is, in the best of times, is not acceptable, but especially right now, and yes, the pay on top of it. I hope for their sake, it’s short.”
Lawson said she would not let her children attend remote classes this Wednesday, should there be no agreement reached.
“Yeah, we won’t be sending,” she said. “I mean, it’s crossing a picket line so there’s just nothing to discuss about that, but even if we were willing to consider crossing a picket line, remote learning, I mean, it’s going to be hundreds of kids in a Zoom room.”
Remote learning is not acceptable for Schoone, either. He said this moment was important for his daughter to see.
“I want her to see collective action happening and how that when people get together, they can make a difference and I think that’s really important for her,” he said.
CEA has announced picketing will occur during school hours at select locations in the city for the duration of the strike. There is no word on how long it will last, and as of Monday afternoon, there are no negotiations scheduled.
The union announced a rally for Monday evening outside the Southland Center, which is where the school board has scheduled a meeting.